Music with Minnesotans: Dianne Brown

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
January 9, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — When I asked postal clerk Dianne Brown if she would come on Music with Minnesotans and share her deep love for classical music with all of us, it was December 19th and I had maybe 20 people in line behind me.

Dianne - ever unflappable and with a pleasant and helpful smile even in the midst of Christmas rush - was careful to give any impression we were chit-chatting, and without saying yes or no, wrote her email address on my receipt.

It only took a week or two, and a shaving of about 50 hours of music, to come up with a lovely playlist that includes a brand new piece to me. What a lark to not only have the joy of sharing our love of music, but to make a discovery together was bliss!

Dianne has been working for over two decades at the downtown Saint Paul post office. It's no more than a little hole in the wall across the hall from Meritage in the Hamm building. For the first few years I lived here, I walked right past without noticing, but soon took my packages and Christmas cards in, bought stamps and within two visits, Dianne and I were like old friends.

And a lot of that has to do with how much she loves classical. Dianne sang in her church choir - which is the source of the absolutely goose bumps-producing Palestrina - but was introduced to opera from the very start. Her mother cranked up the Metropolitan broadcasts every Saturday and Dianne tells me she thought every little girl had her hair set in curlers to Tosca and Aida.

Her first live opera was at Northrop Auditorium and it was the Met in the last days of their national touring. Dianne still remembers the violent red of Scarpia's shoes and how terrible he was, in spite of the spectacular singing.

As a postal clerk who works mostly at the window, Dianne's only time to listen to MPR midday is while sorting mail. She says with regret that she can't always hear entire pieces and even when driving home, has spent many a time sitting in her car with the volume as high as possible catching the ends of pieces.

Dianne retires in just a few weeks and says Classical MPR will be set at a high volume all day long at home- at least when she's home!

Dianne Brown's playlist:

Giacomo Puccini, Tosca: E lucevan le stella - Placido Domingo/Philharmonia Orchestra

Giovanni Palestrina: O Bone Jesu - Chanticleer

Ludwig van Beethovon, Leonore Overture No. 3 - Minnesota Orchestra/Skrowaczewski

Modest Mussorgsky, Boris Godonov: Opening - Kirov Orchestra/Gergiev

Edvard Grieg, Piano Concerto: I - Leif Ove Andsnes, Bergen Philharmonic

Franz Schubert, Symphony No. 9 "Great:" Finale - Gewandhaus Orchestra/Masur

Next week we visit with an educational psychologist from the University of Minnesota, Bob Jorczak. He likes to stump his friends on musical trivia, including this classical host!

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